There are a few names that have been tossed around and given some consideration. Of course, Andre Johnson would make it. That's about as much of a no-brainer as there is. Many think that rookie LB Brian Cushing should get an invite to Hawaii. But as spectacular as he has been, I think being a rookie will keep him off the team (remember Ronnie Brown over Steve Slaton last season?). Mario Williams may get in off of name recognition alone, but many will agree that he hasn't had a Pro Bowl caliber season.
But the name that I adamantly agree with when it comes to Pro Bowl inclusion is QB Matt Schaub. It is no big secret around these parts that I am an avid Schaub supporter and defender. Before the Rosencopter incident, I felt (at times) like I was about the only one who didn't think Schaub should still be the starter over Sage Rosenfels. There were many knocks of criticism towards Schaub coming into the season, most of which were hard to argue with, health and durability being the biggest one.
Well, here we are 14 games in and Matt has played in, yep, all14 games. He had a scare in the preseason where he seemed to roll his ankle, and then of course the shoulder injury in the Jacksonville game, which knocked him out of the game for two series. Other than that, he has been kept upright all season.
Now, let's take a look at his numbers so far this season. 4,181 yards passing (2nd in the NFL and only 32 yards behind Peyton Manning for 1st in the NFL), 25 touchdown passes (Tied for 6th in the NFL), a 69% completion rate (2nd in the NFL) and an overall QB rating of 98.9 (7th in the NFL). These numbers shouldn't be too surprising. I mean, even his detractors always said he would do this if he could stay healthy and play a full season.
Here is the part that gets him the most criticism. These people say that the only reason he is putting up those kinds of stats are because of Houston's lousy running game. In my opinion, wouldn't that be more a testament to how good he really is, not a criticism? I mean, when you become that one-dimensional and everyone, including the opposing defense, knows you're going to pass every play then they are going to be gunning for the QB every single snap. Schaub has been sacked 23 times this year, but most Texans fans would agree that with this offensive line we are running out there every game, that number was expected to be much higher.
The last criticism is the stat that is usually thrown out there by VY fan boys (like Little Dickie Justice, age 12). Win total. Yes, Houston is .500 this year. Again. While very disappointing, other than the season opener and a really bad 2nd half against the Colts, I really don't know how much you can blame that on Matt. Yes, the pick 6 in Arizona hurt. But he still put the team in a position on the next drive to tie the game late. With the game on the line, I didn't see Matt fumbling or not even able to get into the end zone at the one-yard line, missing game tying field goals, or attempting halfback passes on 1st and goal.
His 13 interceptions are probably the only thing that would keep him off the AFC Pro Bowl team this year. He is good usually for about one bad throw per game, and that bad throw usually ends in an interception. But even Peyton Manning has thrown 15 picks this year. Also, Schaub has only lost 2 fumbles this year.
So, if the AFC sends three QBs to Hawaii every year, besides Peyton Manning, what other two would you send over Matt Schaub? Carson Palmer? Schaub has better statistics in every category than Palmer. However, Palmer is going to the playoffs this season. So he has that going for him.
I believe Matt deserves to go this season. But I think a lack of notoriety will be his undoing, and Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger will be voted in as the other two signal callers for the AFC this year. I can't argue with Rivers. He is having a phenomenal season. He has more touchdowns than Schaub and fewer interceptions. Not as many yards, but his team is 10-3. Then there is Big Ben, who voters can't use the win total argument in his favor, as the defending champs are looking up from the same perch as Houston is this year. He has less yards and touchdowns than Matt and he has been sacked 43 times this season. But, he plays for the defending champs and that gives him more notoriety.
So, in conclusion, what Matt Schaub has done with a banged-up offensive line and virtually zero play action due to no running threat in the offense is simply terrific. So terrific that in a perfect world he would be packing his bags for Hawaii. Looks like we will have to wait until December 29th when the 2010 Pro Bowl selections are announced on NFL Network.